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The heights of pleasure brought about by good food and wine are available at Altos in Subiaco...

ALTOS in Subiaco has to be one of the only places wine connoisseurs can get the whole box and dice – an extensive wine list, well trained staff and impeccable cuisine.

Altos has won the State's best wine list of the year award from wine distributors Tucker Seabrook; picked up an award for excellence from US magazine Wine Spectator for the second year running; and has the Catering Institute’s 2001 Sommelier of the Year on hand to dispense wine and knowledge.

The restaurant is winning the wine accolades because of its commitment to sourcing good quality wines, says Sommelier of the Year Shaun Maher.

“Clientele are becoming more educated about wines,” he says.

“And there are now more avenues for consumers to learn about all types of wines.”

But the problem of a homogenised wine list plaguing many restaurants comes back to a lack of time and re-sources, Mr Maher says.

“Wine companies sell specific wines to boost their sales. Because of the ease, a lot of restaurants have the wine companies compile their wine lists,” he says.

There is no such problem for Altos, however, with two wine lists – the Cellar List, which consists of more than 300 wines; and the Concise List, which changes weekly, and is compiled from a list drawn up by owner Steven Scaffedi and Mr Maher's predecessor, Terry Chellepah.

“I replaced Terry Chellepah, who was instrumental in designing the structure of the (Altos) wine list, so I was lucky in that I inherited a very good list,” he says.

Mr Maher has been at Altos for about three and a half years and spends a significant amount of time selecting the restaurant’s wines.

“We work very hard at researching the best wines on offer and we deal closely with wine companies and they know that we’re after unique products,” he says.

“We source quality wines regardless if they’re made in southern Italy or here in Australia,” Mr Maher says.

And having such a wide range and an ever-changing list requires staff training if the list is to be successful.

“My task, as it should be as a sommelier, is to choose and search for wines, to construct the wine list, train staff, and to sell wine,” he says.

And while some establishments have come and gone along the Subi strip, Altos management tells us the restaurant with the best wine list is simply not for sale. Sorry!

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HOSPITALITY staff rejoice, those looking for a no-fuss alcohol transaction … forget it. Racing and Gaming Minister Nick Griffiths has ruled out the introduction of the recently patented alcohol vending machines.

Mr Griffiths reiterated in parliamentary question time that the liquor industry is a significant employer of thousands of people and that alcohol vending machines would pose a threat to the level of employment in WA and would remove the responsible serving of alcohol.

“The introduction of alcohol vending machines would be irresponsible and dangerous. People are trained to serve alcohol and to know when a person should be responsible to purchase alcohol. These vending machines remove that responsibility,” he says.

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One of our intrepid reporters recently suggested Perth’s culinary leader, Alain Fabregues, and his wife Elizabeth had closed the famed Loose Box restaurant.

We were as glad as any of the restaurant’s enthusiastic patrons to be reminded last week that the Mundaring eatery and its accompanying chalets are still well and truly open - with the Fabreques still at the reins.

Mrs Fabreques told us The Loose Box had been on the market for about six months, but the lack of an offer had forced the couple to reconsider their options. She said so many customers had expressed their disappointment at the thought of losing their favourite chef that the feedback had renewed their enthusiasm for the business.

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Style and grace will be flaunted by Windows restaurant on September 7. Why? Well, it would have been Coco Chanel’s 117th birthday and the Burswood has decided to put on a very French very chic afternoon in the Windows restaurant.

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Gershwin’s has changed tack and will now only offer a la carte dining to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings.

The Hyatt says the success of private functions utilising the three separate areas of Gershwin’s – the main dining room, private dining suite, and the wine room – has prompted them to make Gershwin’s a private function venue from Sunday through Thursday.

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